Can Oatmeal Lower Cholesterol?
We've all seen the commercials for oatmeal that say eating oatmeal can lower your cholesterol. In fact, most oatmeal boxes now say the same thing, and often recommend a specific serving of oats to best lower cholesterol. But is there truth in all this?
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that the liver makes and it occurs naturally in the body and in the foods we eat. We need cholesterol. Too much cholesterol can build up in our systems and have adverse health effects.
Why is there Good and Bad Cholesterol?
Good cholesterol, also called HDL which stands for high density lipoprotein, works to remove the bad cholesterol from your blood and prevents it from building up in the heart. Bad cholesterol is also called LDL for low density lipoprotein, and is what builds up in your body and can cause heart disease.
Oatmeal Does Lower Cholesterol
Yes, it is true. Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which lowers bad cholesterol, called low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, by reducing the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. It takes only five to ten grams of soluble fiber a day to lower your bad cholesterol by five percent. One and a half cups of oatmeal provides four and a half grams of soluble fiber, which is enough to make a difference in your cholesterol levels.
What if I Get Tired of Oatmeal?
Other foods contain soluble fiber. Apples, pears, prunes, kidney beans, brussels sprouts and barley all contain soluble fiber. Check labels to determine what serving size is best for you. Many cereals also provide soluble fiber like Cheerios, Grape Nuts and Raisin Bran. Check labels, and choose cereals that are low in sugar.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids also have been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Fish like albacore tuna, salmon and mackerel are high in omega-3, as well as nuts like walnuts, almonds and flaxseed. Omega-3 fatty acids work to keep your blood vessels healthy and elastic.
What to do if Oatmeal Gets Boring
You can only eat so much oatmeal before it gets a bit dull. Keep your diet exciting with new flavors and textures. Here are some tips to jazz up your daily bowl of oats.
- Dice up an apple and throw it in when you put the oats in. Apples are also high in soluble fiber, so this can boost your daily serving.
- Try dried fruits. Raisins, cranberries, apricots, peaches or blueberries add a nice flavor to oats.
- Experiment with spices. Try apples and cinnamon, apricots and a dash of ginger, peaches and nutmeg. Then mix it up.
- Flaxseed is also high in fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. You can find it whole or ground, and a spoonful can make a big difference.
- Cold cereals. Cold cereals can be a great source of soluble fiber, just be sure to check the labels for fiber quantities and sugar levels.
Photo Credit: chotda